McGuigan Builders Intermediate Football Championship – Sunday 5th September – Semi-Final
Rock play second fiddle
Team: Jamie Smith, Colin Reilly, Niall McKeown, Garry Calvert, Keelan Clerkin, Keith Daly, Stephen McGuirk 0-2, Barry Patterson, Mark Daly 0-5, Noel Carroll, Martin Carroll, Liam Connolly, Mark McGuirk, Damien Matthews, and Paul McKeown 0-1. Subs: Dwayne Rooney for Martin Carroll
When the sides met a couple of weeks ago in the league campaign Tyholland won by two points and on the day we felt we did not give a good account of ourselves and if we were to have any chance of beating them we needed to come out with all guns blazing or in this case all shooting boots firing! But last Saturday evening when we travelled to Emyvale to meet Tyholland in the semi-final of the the McGuigan Builders Intermediate football championship there was no debating who the better team was on the day as we played second fiddle to a more speedier and slicker Tyholland side as we offered very little to the game and exited the competition, very tamely it must be said, on a score-line Rockcorry 0-8 Tyholland 1-12. While seven points may have been the difference on the scoreboard, in truth it should have been a wider margin had Tyholland been more accurate in their point taking and for the most part they were the hungrier side and the movement and speed of play shown by them was simply too much for us as they battled for every ball and put us under pressure for possession forcing us to make silly mistakes and sloppy passing. The harsh truth we were simply second best and only a couple of players could walk off the field after giving everything for the cause.
Both sides missed chances in the opening minutes with Tyholland having the first opportunity to register a score but they kicked wide on the 2nd minute and moments later Liam Connolly kicked wide following good approach play by Martin Carroll, Noel Carroll and Keelan Clerkin. Tyholland got the scoring underway shortly afterwards when the corner forward collected a long delivery after Garry Calvert lost his footing at a vital moment and he rounded our goal-keeper Jamie Smith and he was left with the simple task of finishing the ball to the empty net to give them the perfect start. Paul McKeown had a scoring opportunity a minute later but his effort lacked power and fell short into the goal-keeper hands and the danger was cleared. When Mark Daly was pulled down on the 6th minute he delivered a pass into Mark McGuirk but he was penalized for over-carrying and Tyholland launched an immediate counter-attacked and Noel Carroll was on hand to break the attack down and as he attempted to clear his defence he was fouled.We opened our account on the 7th minute when Mark Daly converted a free-kick following a foul on Paul McKeown and a couple of minutes later we reduced the gap to a single point when Noel Carroll collected the breaking ball and delivered an accurate pass into Keelan Clerkin and he off-loaded to Mark Daly who fired over and a couple of minutes later we were on level terms when Paul McKeown bisected the posts with a lovely score. However, Tyholland replied instantly to retake the lead and they increased their advantage two minutes later when they notched over another neat score to leave the score Rockcorry 0-3 Tyholland 1-2.
The ensuing kick-out was won by Tyholland and Keelan Clerkin brought down his opponent and the resulting free-kick was off-target. At this stage, there was a stop in play to allow a Tyholland player receive treatment for a knee injury but he was not able to continue and had to retire from the game.On the 19th minute Garry Calvert didn’t let his earlier slip disturb his concentration as he broke down a Tyholland attack and when Paul McKeown was hauled down on the twenty-one metre line Mark Daly stepped up and tapped over the free to make it 0-4 to 1-2. A sweeping move, on the 23rd minute, was penalized when Noel Carroll was adjudged to slightly push his opponent in the back and Tyholland broke down the field at pace and their effort at the uprights drifted wide. When Liam Connolly was fouled on the 28th minute Mark Daly delivered a long ball into Damien Matthews but he was not able to keep possession and Tyholland with an excellent move down the field doubled their lead with a neat point. Mark Daly kicked wide a minute later following good approach play by Keelan Clerkin and Liam Connolly and Tyholland hit the upright on the 30th minute before Stephen McGuirk rifled over a superb point on the 31st minute after good work by Noel Carroll. However, whenever they sensed danger they seemed to reassert their superiority as they respondedimmediately to restore a two point advantage going in at the interval with the score-board reading: Rockcorry 0-5 Tyholland 1-4.
Tyholland certainly appeared to be more focused after the restart and one wonders what our team management said to our lads during those fifteen minutes or so because it didn’t work to spur on the players as we resembled a boxer punching drunk as we had no answer to the Tyholland onslaught as wave after wave of white and red attacks followed and they quickly established a six point cushion by the 12th minute and it was a case of not who was going to win, but how much Tyholland would win by? Thankfully, we gradually crept into the game when team management decided to change things around moving Damien Matthews back to his more accustomed surroundings at full back with Niall McKeown moving to midfield, where we were struggled for long periods, and we started to enjoy a brief period where we managed to match our opponents during which time we scored three unanswered points to reduce the deficit to three points. The first arriving on the 14th minute, when Mark Daly converted a free-kick following a powerful solo run through the heart of the Tyholland defence by Niall McKeown that ended when he was pulled down on the thirteen metre line. The second came a minute later when Paul McKeown was fouled and Stephen McGuirk curled over a lovely point and when Mark McGuirk was dragged down shortly afterwards Mark Daly wrapped up our scoring on the 18th minute as we went the final fifteen minutes without a score. The momentum seemed to have swung back in our favour and one wonders if these changes had been made earlier, what if? However, that sentiment soon vanished, instead of giving us the impetus these scores sparked Tyholland into life as they stepped it up once more and with further scores on the 19th and 20th minutes they quickly regained a five point lead.
Our championship hopes were now hanging by a thread and we pressed hard for that elusive goal that might have given us a serious lifeline in this match and it looked as if Barry Patterson had worked his way into a goal scoring position after receiving a pass from Dwayne Rooney but we failed to seize the opportunity as his effort was saved and our hopes of salvaging something from the game faded. Noel Carroll, who was a doubtful starter, produced a workmanlike performance and did extremely well to track back and disposes a Tyholland attacker on the 23rd minute and Damien Matthews showed more confidence in his usual position when making a number of interceptions on the 24th and 26th minutes. When Noel Carroll was fouled on the 27th minute, Mark Daly’s attempt at the uprights was off target which summed up our evening! Tyholland extended their lead on the 29th minute with a neat point and the final nail in our coffin arrived two minutes into added time when they added another point to leave the final score Rockcorry 0-8 Tyholland 1-12.
In the end Tyholland held too many aces and now progress to the intermediate football championship final and we wish them the best of luck. I suppose the most disappointing and surprising aspect of the game was how much fire, determination and spirit we lacked over the hour. We appeared distinctly one-paced compared to a well drilled, far fitter and slicker Tyholland side. Although we had our share of possession we found it difficult to break through the Tyholland defence with numerous attacks breaking down at vital moments. Three points all from frees, was all we had to show for our efforts in the second half such was the dominance of the Tyholland side and at this level that it is not good enough. The gamble on switching Damien Matthews from full back to full forward backfired and the question on many people’s lip is had the team been lined out differently would the result be different? I guess we will never know! The harsh truth is we were outplayed by a better organised team and if we learn one thing from this game, at least we now know what level the bar is set. This is the level we need to work towards and a lot of hard work and sacrifices will need to be made, in a short space of time, in order to reach that level.